How do you plan on winning the game of longevity? I ask because it’s not really a game you want to try to wing or play by ear. Did you know that peptides might be your best ally for longevity and anti-aging? Despite peptides playing by their own rules, they might just be the key to living your best life.
Peptides control, trigger, and maintain the body’s physiological processes that we often take for granted. Perhaps the most commonly known naturally produced peptide is insulin – a hormone produced in the pancreas that controls blood sugar. But it’s more about what we can manipulate them into doing that’s the true appeal. Peptides are short sequences of amino acids that can come in numerous configurations. There are 20 naturally occurring amino acids, and they can be arranged almost like Tinker Toys to form a molecule. When a molecule consists of 2-50 amino acids, it is called a peptide; anything larger is deemed a protein.
The possible amino acid configurations are also dependent on your healthcare goals. For example, as people age, the body produces less collagen and elastin, which help to keep skin smooth and wrinkle-free. A loss in collagen and elastin can also be caused by sun damage and lead to thinner and sagging skin. Age-defying peptides can prevent or even reverse these signs of aging. Meanwhile, neuropeptides relax facial muscles to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and copper peptides reduce inflammation, help wounds heal faster, and stimulate hair follicles. They may even help get rid of stretch marks, age spots, scars, and other skin problems.
Peptides are so effective therapeutically because we can use them through injections and in ingestible and lotion forms to cause the chain reaction we’re looking for. Not only can peptides stimulate the body to produce more or fewer hormones, but they can be used to fix things went they start to go off the rails, like when we begin to show signs of aging.
Types of Peptides
There are several kinds of peptides. Generally, they fall into one of three classifications, based on how many amino acids make up the peptide chain, where the peptides come from, and how they function within the body.
This is a more granular view of peptides. Take, for example, the types of growth hormone-stimulating peptides. Each one plays a unique role in terms of growth hormones but can simultaneously function differently, be applied differently, and be comprised of a varying number of amino acids.
Sermorelin is a peptide that is a growth hormone releasing hormone analogue (actually, exactly the same first 29 amino acids as in the naturally occurring substance that is made of 44 amino acids) and it works the same way as naturally produced growth hormone releasing hormone through the pituitary gland. Use of Sermorelin and its resulting effect on growth hormone has been found to decrease body fat, increase endurance and strength, increase lean muscle mass, improve sleep, and improve sexual performance and libido.
Ipamorelin is another growth hormone stimulator – most often referred to as a “GH secretagogue” – that works through a different pathway than growth hormone releasing hormone to produce growth hormone called the ghrelin pathway. It’s typically for anyone that would like to improve body composition by decreasing fat stores and regenerating ligaments and tendons.
Ibutamoren – actually a “peptidomimetic”, meaning it isn’t a true peptide, but it acts like one – induces the release of growth hormone and can be taken in pill form. The only downside is that it also works via the ghrelin pathway – the same one that causes “the munchies” in those that use cannabis, and it can often make people feel hungry.
Meanwhile, Cerebrolysin is used to treat ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), different forms of dementia, and to prevent cognitive decline after brain injuries.
The uses for peptides are so vast that synthetic peptides have been created by chemically synthesizing small polymers of amino acids. And the methods for producing them have increasingly improved, enabling more research for more applications. In the last 50 years, chemistry and methods have become so efficient that peptide synthesis is a common approach in biological research as well as product and drug development.
As a result, how peptides are synthesized has become a source of creativity and imagination for those researchers looking to expand its application.
With both naturally occurring peptides and synthetic peptides in our arsenal, the applications for health and wellbeing continue to grow. Current uses for peptides include lowering blood sugar and high blood pressure, killing microbes, reducing inflammation, preventing blood clots, and improving immune function.
Biotechnology and bioengineering experts have been experimenting with peptides to assist in cancer diagnosis and treatment, antibiotic drug development, epitope mapping, production of antibodies, and vaccine design.
Peptides are also now in lotions and cosmetics. Using a serum or moisturizer that contains peptides can lead to firmer, younger-looking skin and maybe even fewer breakouts. Dermatologists have said they’re worth the hype, pointing to the fact that peptides can reduce the appearance of fine lines, lock in hydration, aid in collagen production, help make skin firmer, smooth out complexion, and repair damaged skin.
As people age, the body produces less collagen and elastin, which help to keep skin smooth and wrinkle-free. A loss in collagen and elastin can also be caused by sun damage and lead to thinner and sagging skin. Taking collagen peptides through supplements may improve skin health and slow the aging process. It can also help with wound healing and prevent age-related bone loss. Peptides are also now in lotions and cosmetics. Using a serum or moisturizer that contains peptides is said to lead to firmer, younger-looking skin and maybe even fewer breakouts. Dermatologists have said they’re worth the hype, pointing to the fact that peptides can reduce the appearance of fine lines, lock in hydration, aid in collagen production, help make skin firmer, smooth out complexion, and repair damaged skin.
Then there are the supplements like creatine peptide supplements for building muscle and enhancing athletic performance. Taking collagen peptides through supplements may improve skin health and slow the aging process. It can also help with wound healing and prevent age-related bone loss.
Flag on the Play
For all of their benefits, peptides are not perfect. For healthy individuals, peptide supplements are unlikely to cause serious side effects because they are so similar to the peptides present in everyday foods. However, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements in the same way that they do medications. As a result, individuals should exercise caution when taking any over-the-counter or online supplements.
Topical creams and ointments containing peptides may cause skin symptoms, such as skin sensitivity, rash, and itching. Individuals should always buy from a reputable company and discontinue use if adverse reactions occur. Also, it is a good idea to speak to a doctor before taking peptide supplements or using topical products that contain peptides, especially if you’re taking other medications or living with a medical condition (or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding).
This peptide playbook is simply a starting point. As research continues, the game evolves. Don’t just sit on the sidelines when there could be a way to improve your health. After all, isn’t the adage, “The best defense is a good offense?”